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UN To Have Child Soldier Recruiter DRC Army in CAR Mission, Speeches

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 8, more here -- With Children and Armed Conflict the subject of the UN Security Council's debate on September 8, beyond platitudes one expected to be addressed why UN Peacekeeping would include the child recruiting DR Congo Army in its upcoming mission in Central African Republic.

   But when UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous spoke, he did not directly address this hypocrisy. Obliquely he said that individual soldiers from this child soldier recruiting army will be screened.

  But even that is less than meaningful. For the 130 rapes in Minova by the DRC Army in November 2012, only two soldiers were convicted. So the other rapists could serve in CAR with Ladsous' screening seal of approval.

   Actor Forest Whitaken spoke about South Sudan; Sandra Uwiringiyimana spoke of having to flee DRC into Burundi. These were moving speeches. But what of UN Peacekeeping's hypocrisy under Ladsous, who refuses to answer questions on it (video here, UK coverage here), and the lack of oversight?

   Not only kidnappings by Boko Haram but also abuses by Nigeria's Army and "self-defense" forces were cited on September 4 in a report by the Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict.

 Back on September 4, Inner City Press asked Watchlist's Janine Morna, author of the report, if Watchlist thinks UN Peacekeeping should review the participation of Nigerian soldiers, and to comment on Herve Ladsous' UN Peacekeeping saying it will use the DR Congo Army in its new mission in the Central African Republic.

  On the latter, Watchlist's Morna said she wasn't aware of that decision by UN Peacekeeping. Inner City Press followed up by citing the response of Babacar Gaye on August 19, citing "our boss Herve Ladsous," that the DRC Army will be included.

  We wondered then when Watchlist didn't follow up. Moderating on September 4 was Watchlist's board chair Jo Becker of Human Rights Watch. On other issues, HRW has lobbyists at the UN, including at the Security Council. Why not on this one? And why won't HRW and its lobbyist(s) disclose what topics the organization's Ken Roth raised to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon?

  We hope to have more on this - and on follow up on Watchlist's Nigeria report.

  What would it take for an army to be deemed to fail the supposed Human Rights Due Diligence Policy of UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous?

  The question is raised by the impending inclusion of units from the army of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country with a large UN Peacekeeping mission, in the UN Peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic, MINUSCA. On its face, it strikes some as absurd.

  But the DRC army is also on the UN's list of child soldier recruiters. Shouldn't that by itself -- leaving aside the near total impunity for that army's 130 rapes in Minova in November 2012 - disqualify them from MINUSMA?

    UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous refused Press questions for months about the Minova rapes, video here. On the issue of the DRC Army being on the child soldier recruitment list, Inner City Press has been informed of concern in the Security Council, including from the chair of the Children and Armed Conflict Committee.

  But when Inner City Press asked Deputy Permanent Representative Peter Wilson of the UK, the Council's president for August, about the issue, he said that UN envoy -- and former UN force commander in the DRC -- Babacar Gaye had spoken about training for all troops joining MINUSMA. Transcript below.

   To Gaye himself, Inner City Press asked about the child soldier recruitment list. Gaye added the issue, also raised in the Council, of DRC hosting publicly-funded peacekeepers while sending its own soldiers to CAR. But, Gaye said, it is an "opportunity," they will "initially" be included.

  Gaye, ever genial, also answered a Press question about the territorial integrity of CAR. Tellingly, he concluded by saying that "our boss, Mr. Ladsous" wants helicopters flying on September 15. Beyond the obvious joke about drones, it reflects that Ladsous, as boss, is responsible once again for failing to implement or explain the supposed UN Human Rights Due Diligence Policy.

  What will NGOs which have also raised this issue say? About Ladsous's tenure at UN Peacekeeping, about those who put him there? We'll have more on this.

  Ladsous' extraordinary refusal to answer Inner City Press questions, noted as far away as the UK's New Statesman, here, and evidenced on CAR as well, here, is intended to make more difficult Press reporting on UN Peacekeeping - and it does. Not impossible, however. This reporting will continue.

Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the human rights due diligence policy again on August 19 - and he said that MINUSCA chief Babacar Gaye will be expecting the question from the Press at 5 pm.  Video here.

  Inner City Press asked Dujarric if in Human Rights Watch's Ken Roth's meeting with Ban Ki-moon on August 18, this issue arose. Dujarric wouldn't say, not even what countries were discussed. Haiti cholera? No answer -- including from HRW's top two spokespeople. We will continue to have more on this as well. Watch this site.

From the UK Mission's transcript:

Inner City Press: What about the inclusion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s troops in MINUSCA. There’s been some controversy because they’re listed on the child soldier recruitment list and also things about the Minova rapes. I am just wondering was this discussed in consultations? Are they going to remain until January 1st and then leave? Are they going to leave on September 15th and what’s the UK's position on whether a country on that list should be incorporated into a UN Peacekeepng Mission?
UK Amb Peter Wilson: I think in terms of consultations the Special Representative of the Secretary-General made it very, very clear that he is very keen to ensure that all of the troops are specially trained and that all of the troops adhere to the standards of the United Nations. That specific issue did not come up in the consultations just now, but it is important and several countries raised this, that all Troop Contributing countries are specially trained particularly in protection of civilians.


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